I just saw a science fiction movie (ish). That is basically all about a woman.
SPOILER ALERT. THIS IS A REVIEW.
Is it perfect? No. Of course not. It’s a movie written by two men and directed by a man. But seeing a science fiction film which is essentially a soliloquy is beautiful.
The story itself is harrowing, and the end result… is unclear. I think what I liked the most about this film was that it broke the traditional mold. Usually man saves woman. Usually woman is unable to rescue herself.
In Gravity, we see a woman fight for her life, and presumably, win. We see a woman struggle to survive, and she does. We see her with a man, but the story is not about their love for one another.
About a quarter of the way through the movie, or less, my husband looks at me and says “I mean, we know they both survive.”
I snap at him because he spoiled the ending – but he was wrong. About ten minutes later, the male character floats off into space, he knows only one of them can make it, and she’s the closer one to the space station. In this film, his sacrifice doesn’t read like a man sacrifices for woman trope. It doesn’t read that way because in space, in that situation, it isn’t about gender. It’s about who the hell can actually get to a place with oxygen. By all rights, she could have died if she hadn’t gotten oxygen. But she does.
Can we know whether or not she survives? Not for certain, but I think she does. I think that this is a story about a woman surviving. I think it is a story about a woman rescuing herself. This is not about a damsel in distress. And in a movie where a man were playing that part, we would end up with heroics, and no emotion – whereas in this film we are able to watch a woman really struggle with her mortality, and triumph. We are able to watch her have emotions – but still check them for her own safety. She is able to survive. She is not a stereotype.
I think this is the first really feminist science fiction film I’ve ever seen. I thought it was beautiful, compelling, harrowing, and it made me think about the ending. Alfonso Cuaron has done the impossible – he made me love a movie about space.